Sculpture & Paintings from Gandhara, Burma, Khmer, · PDF fileObjects of Veneration...
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Objects of VenerationSc u lp ture & Paintings from Gandhara, Burma,
K hmer, Ceylon, India & Tibet
+(44) 207 839 8200 joost van den bergh
Objects of Veneration Sculpture & Paintings from Gandhara, Burma, Khmer, Ceylon, India & Tibet
01 White Marble Ganesh
The elephant-headed god Ganesha is one of
the best known and loved deities in the Hindu
pantheon of gods. As the son of Parvati and
Shiva, he is one of the most widely worshipped.
Whilst his image is found throughout India,
devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and ex-
tends to Jains, Buddhists and beyond India. He
is revered as the Remover of Obstacles, provid-
er of good fortune, prosperity and success and
is also patron of arts and sciences and the deva
of intellect and wisdom. He is honoured at the
start of rituals and ceremonies and invoked as
Patron of Letters during writing sessions.
This marble Ganesh dates back to the Hindu
Shahi/post Gupta Period and comes from the
area of present day Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Between 4th 7th centuries this region saw
successive occupations by the Central Asian
White Huns and other foreigners including the
Turki, Shahis and later by the Hindu Shahis.
During the post Gupta period from the 7th
-9th centuries there is evidence of the peaceful
coexistence of Hinduism and Buddhism under
Shahi rule which is reflected in the stylistic
attributes of the sculptures from this period.
Drawing inspiration from post Gandharan,
Gupta, and Kashmiri sculptural styles, Hindu
Shahi sculpture combines the monumental
presence of early Gandharan, with the soft
roundness of Gupta and some of the broad facial
features seen in Kashmiri sculpture.
Hindu Shahi/ Post Gupta Period
Pakistan/ Afghanistan (Punjab Hills)
mid ninth century
Height: 47.5 cm; 18 inches
Provenance: private collection, USA
02 Stucco head of Buddha Shakyamuni
This larger than life-size stucco head of Buddha originates
from the Gandhara region, the area that is present-day
Afghanistan-Pakistan. The sensitive modelling of this head is
distinguished by great attention to detail, this was achieved
by working in stucco, giving it a more expressive quality
compared to the formal, somewhat harder, images in stone.
The technique of stucco was an invention of the late
Hellenistic period in Alexandria, where gypsum was first
used as a cheaper substitute for marble. As trade relations
with the Roman West intensified in the early first century,
the technique spread from there to Iran and India. Heads
of statues were constructed on a rough core of lime plaster
mixed with straw and small stones, which was then covered
with an outer layer of finer stucco for the modelling of the
features and hair.
Pakistan, ancient region of Gandhara,
circa 4th century
Height: 52 cm; 20 inches
Provenance: private collection, Japan
03 Carved ivory figure representing Saint Sebastian
Sebastian, shown here flanked by a dog, was a Roman
centurion who was discovered to be a Christian and was
therefore sentenced to death by Emperor Diocletian. He was
bound to a stake and shot with arrows. He was left for dead,
although the arrows had not killed him so he was eventually
stoned to death. The delicate features and the fine carving
of this Saint Sebastian are typical of Christian ivories made
in Goa when it was under Portuguese rule. Goa was initially
conquered in 1510 by Alfonso de Albuquerque (c. 1453 - 1515)
during the reign of Manuel I of Portugal, and re-conquered in
1512. Although Portugals interest was mainly in trade and to
establish trade routes, the Christian settlers and missionaries
were keen also to convert the native populace to Christianity,
and from the 16th century onwards they built numerous
churches. Ivory was already a popular medium used by local
craftsmen to produce Buddhist and Hindu images, and these
same craftsmen were consequently commissioned to produce
Christian imagery. A number of these carvings were made for
export but the majority was intended for domestic use.
Indo-portuguese, Goa, 17th18th century
Height: 20.5 cm, 8 inches
04 Bronze king and queen
Si Lanka, circa 1920
Height of king: 17 cm, 6 inches
Height of queen: 13 cm, 5 inches
05 A carved wood warrior
India, Tamil Nadu, 17th18th Century.
Height: 81 cm, 31 inches
Width: 23 cm, 9 inches
Provenance: Burton Stein Collection
Exhibited and published:
Living Wood: Sculptural Traditions of
Southern India Whitechapel Gallery,
06 Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera
The attribution to Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera is
based on a watercolour by Jan Brandes in the Rijksmuseum,
Amsterdam. This watercolour depicts the meeting in
November 1785 between the diplomatic representatives of
Kandy with the Dutch Governor Willem Jacob van de Graaff
(17371804). Also depicted in the watercolour is a group of
high-ranking VOC officials. Centrally placed in Brandess
watercolour is the Modlia or official interpreter to the VOC,
Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera. A further watercolour
by Brandes, also in the Rijksmuseum, shows another portrait
of Nicolas Dias Abayasinha Amarasekera.
Ivory with traces of pigment and gilding
Kandy, Sri Lanka, 18th century
Height: 22 cm, 8 inches
07 Sandstone torso of Vishnu
This 7th century carved sandstone torso of a deity
is identified as the Hindu god Vishnu, preserver of
the cosmos who assumes many forms, or avatars.
It originates from Phnom Da located in the Angkor
Borei district of southern Cambodia. Stylistically this
torso is comparable to sculpture produced prior to
the establishment of the Khmer capital at Angkor in
the early ninth century.
Phnom Da is located in the Angkor Borei district,
Takeo province, of southern Cambodia. The earliest
archaeological material from this site, dating from
about 400 BC, contains the first known Khmer
inscriptions as well as the earliest tradition of Khmer
sculpture. Today the hill of Phnom Da contains
an 11th Century temple, built on the site of a 6th
century temple from the Funan period, built by king
Rutravarman. The oldest stone sculptures, found
in cave temples, depict both Hindu and Buddhist
divinities were made of single blocks of fine-grained
sandstone and date to the sixth century.
Khmer, pre Angkor Phnom Da Mekong delta,
Height: 44 cm, 17 inches
width: 25 cm, 9 inches
Provenance: private collection, UK
08 Ivory Madonna and child
For centuries Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was influenced by
the artistic and cultural traditions of South India.
Through trade with the Portuguese, ivory became
highly valued in Europe from the sixteenth century.
A Portuguese observer, Garcia da Orto, writing at
this time, stated that ivory was used for ...caskets,
combs and many other things. Ivory was principally
imported from Africa. Ivory from Sri Lanka and
Sumatra was valued because it did not become
yellow, which Indian ivory tended to do.
Sri Lanka, circa 17th century.
Height: 20.5 cm, 8 inches
09 Ivory figure of the crucified Christ
In 1543 the Philippines became part of The Spanish
Empire as a colony, which lasted over 300 years.
The Spanish introduced Christianity to their colonies
and arte-facts for worship where commissioned
locally. Ivory carving was one of the techniques
introduced to the Philippines in order to produce
carvings of various Christian iconographies. Ivory
figures produced in the Philippines not only catered
to local use, but were also produced to export to
Latin America and Europe. Originally this ivory Christ
would probably have been adorned with a metal
loincloth and crown.
Hispano-Philippines 17th18th century
Height: 20.5 cm, 8 inches
10 Bronze standing Buddha Shakyamuni
The rippling design of the Buddhas robe gives the
impression of falling water and is a typical sculptural
innovation from the Kandyan period. It gives a sense
of motion to the otherwise static figure. The city of
Kandy is situated in the hills of the Kandy Valley in
Central Sri Lanka. In 1592 Kandy became the capital
city of the last remaining independent kingdom in
the island, while the coasts where dominated by the
Portuguese and the Dutch from 1505 to 1815.
It was during this period that Sri Lanka witnessed a
Buddhist revival under the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasimha
(1747-1782), resulting in an increase in demand for
images of the Buddha, made in both ivory and bronze.
Sri Lanka, Kandy period, 18th century
Height: 19 cm, 7 inches
11 Krishna Venugopala
An exceptionally large figure of Krishna Venugopala
made in zinc and gold inlay.
Krishna is a manifestation o